City of Heroes adding free-to-play option

City of Heroes is going free-to-play later this year, with an update dubbed City of Heroes Freedom. The Freedom version will launch alongside Issue 21: Convergence later this year. Current subscribers will automatically be updated to a "VIP" account, which promises exclusive content.

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Free membership includes full access to the Hero and Villain zones, and character progression up to the current level cap (50). The Paragon Rewards program will give powers, costume sets, visual effects to purchase. Current subscribers will start racking up 400 Paragon Points to spend each month starting on July 1, making for a nice hefty pocketbook to spend once the market goes live. The Paragon Market will be managed through PlaySpan.

According to an accompanying FAQ, all 15 current servers will remain open, plus a new VIP-exclusive server that allows paying users to stick together. Free issues will also continue to be offered.

"Freedom is about getting more content into the hands of our players, whether they are subscribing or playing for free," said Paragon executive producer Brian Clayton, in the announcement. "To do this, we've looked at City of Heroes from the ground up and focused on three ways to enhance the experience by giving our players more choices, greater rewards and the best content we've ever produced. And for the first time ever, players can choose to enjoy more than seven years of content for free."